The Peace Corps Palooza is an event that celebrates the Peace Corps 50-year anniversary; and as tables line the back wall of the Glenn Miller Ballroom, volunteers are itching to share stories of their work from around the world.
Although this event was special due to the Peace Corps anniversary, it is one of two every year that the organization puts on, Peace Corps Coordinator Alea Richmond said.
“We have two big Peace Corps events,” Richmond said. “One every semester. This event is to give interested students an outlook of what it is we are all about.”
Returning Peace Corps volunteers representing countries from South Africa, Panama, Solomon Islands, Brazil, the Philippines, Armenia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo are present to provide information to students interested in the program.
Sheila Dietrich, a graduate of Pitzer University and a returning Peace Corps volunteer from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, said the Peace Corps changed her life 32 years ago.
“I can’t imagine having never done it,” Dietrich said. “In fact I think how can I talk my husband into doing it again.”
Katharine Boyle, a 20-year-old junior international affairs major, said she has been to many Peace Corps events, all similar, but never tires of them.
“I’ve been to a lot of these things and I talk to everyone,” Boyle said. “And they are all the same, but it is still so interesting because it keeps it really real for me.”
The event began with an introductory speech by Richmond. It is followed by an educational slide show covering the history of the Peace Corps, what volunteers do, demographics, benefits from during and after the Peace Corps, graduate school opportunities connected with the Peace Corps, the application process and how to be a competitive applicant.
Shortly after the slide show, four returning Peace Corps volunteers formed a panel where they each answered one question and shared their most memorable experience.
Many memories and shared experiences all seem to culminate to one concluding statement, Peace Corps physician Jan Baumgardner said.
“It is the toughest thing you will do,” Baumgardner said. “But it changes your whole view on the world. It makes you feel grown up.”
CU students seem to be aware of this, as the university has officially become the number one recruiting school for the Peace Corps, Richmond said.
“It’s awesome that we were number one for recruits,” Richmond said. “Every year we have had tons of graduates join the Peace Corps, last year we were number two, behind by four students.”
Maria Wojsz, a 20-year-old junior environmental studies major, said she hopes to become one of the many recruits from CU.
“I want to join the Peace Corps,” Wojsz said. “It’s cool that Boulder was number one though, it means there is a lot of people that like to volunteer.”
Richmond said she agrees with Wojsz, accrediting the high number of Boulder volunteers to the spirit of the CU community.
“CU encourages civil engagement, which contributes to why so many students want to join the Peace Corps,” Richmond said.
The Peace Corps is a 27 month commitment, according to the Peace Corps website. The organization encourages interested parties to apply a year before they wish to depart.
Contact CU Independent Staff Writer Rachel Hersch at Rachel.email@example.com.